Surprise! Surprise! Pumpkin pie isn’t “healthy”. I’ve analyzed all 100 recipes in my collection so I can say with a degree of certainty that many of my favorite recipes including all desserts don’t pass the Kiss test. I’ll have more to say on that later, but first let’s discuss freshly baked …
The taste of freshly baked. It’s one essence even the most gifted food technologist can’t make in a laboratory. The reason I make pumpkin pie for Thanksgiving and Christmas is because I love sharing that taste with my family and friends. So every year when it’s time for holiday celebrations, I roll up my sleeves and get to work.
My love for freshly baked started a long time ago. And my recipe has evolved over time because I’ve experimented with different ingredients and different techniques.
The first time I made a pumpkin pie, I used a real whole pumpkin, took out both seeds and fibrous strands, cut pumpkin into pieces and steamed the pieces until they were soft. Removed the flesh from the shell and used a food mill to make pumpkin purée. It did take awhile for the pumpkin to soften. And I remember to this day how nauseous the smell of boiled pumpkin made me feel. My first lesson in pumpkin pie baking was this – always use canned pumpkin.
My early pies also used a pâte brisée, the classic French pastry with cold butter and flour. Then I moved on to convenience, an off the shelf Graham cracker crust, trading time for taste. I tried every off the shelf product I could find. But I missed the taste of freshly baked. Convenience has great value, but now that I have more time, I’m back in my kitchen with an olive oil based crust. It’s hand pressed into the pie dish and made with flour, olive oil, and plain yogurt.
Regardless of which combination the ingredients I use, most ingredients are NOVA friendly. Listed in descending order by weight, ingredients for the version pictured above are : canned pumpkin, brown sugar, whole wheat flour, milk, egg, extra virgin California olive oil, whole milk plain yogurt, unsalted butter, vanilla extract, cinnamon, nutmeg, salt.
But it’s the taste of freshly baked that makes my pie so special. The aroma that fills my kitchen while the pie is baking and the clean taste of authenticity once the pie is set and cooled.
THE VIEW FROM MY KITCHEN WINDOW
I’m okay with recipes that aren’t “healthy” because I also value palatability and a “healthy” pattern requires a degree of austerity I’m unwilling to commit to. About an 25% of my recipes qualify as “healthy”. That’s a better percentage than if I relied on pre-prepared off-the-shelf products. As calculated by the food industry, that percentage is only about 4%.
Please understand however when I advocate for palatability I don’t mean extremely high levels of fat, salt, sugar #HFSS either. My feet are firmly grounded on a middle patch of ground that used to be called moderation.
I say “used to be called moderation” because the word has virtually disappeared from current food narratives. Big Public Health advocates for austerity because this pattern saves lives while Big Food continues to profit selling better, more extravagant, cheaper indulgences. As for me, I follow the same advice I used to give clients during counseling sessions – it’s what you do most days that counts.